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Conference on CO2
Jamais Cascio, 21 Sep 05

CO2record.jpgThe Seventh International Carbon Dioxide Conference opens September 25, and it looks to be a significant scientific event.

The conference opening should be particularly interesting, even for non-scientists, as it will match the director of the Bush administration's official Climate Change Research Program, Dr. James Mahoney, with Dr. Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Global Ecology. Dr. Caldeira has made the abstract of his talk available, and it's pretty serious:

Continued emissions of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere will affect climate and ocean chemistry. [...] From the perspective of geology and biological evolution, these changes would occur rapidly, overwhelming most natural processes that would buffer CO2 changes occurring over longer time intervals, and thus may produce changes at a rate and of a magnitude that exceed the adaptive capacity of at least some biological systems. To find comparable events in Earth history, we need to look back tens of millions of years to rare catastrophic events.

Through September 29, researchers will present papers on issues such as the future of long-term energy demand, uses of atmospheric sampling, the value of autonomous underwater vehicles for monitoring the ocean, the carbon cycle in Africa, comparisons of climate/carbon models and actual atmospheric measurements, and crafting an effective response to CO2 build-up. (The links here go to abstracts; the proceedings will be available on the ICDC7 website once the event begins.)

Expect some real news to come out of this conference, and expect that the mainstream media in the US will be picking up more of it than they might otherwise (the BBC is likely to have substantive coverage, as well, but this is just the sort of thing they tend to follow closely). Katrina -- and now Rita -- has sensitized the America press to the risks arising from intense weather events. Given the increasingly clear connection between hurricane strength and a warming climate, news about what we can expect from -- and what we can do about -- global warming is likely to draw some attention.

As an added bonus, below is a graphic from the ICDC7 website showing the geographic distribution of increased CO2 buildup 1994-2003.


Three dimensional representation of the latitudinal distribution of atmospheric CO2.

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I am I reading that 3D graph correctly: The highest concentration of CO2 is at the north pole?

Posted by: jim moore on 21 Sep 05

It's somewhat unclear, given the angle of the chart, but the highest concentrations are definitely over the northern part of the northern hemisphere. Given the way that the atmosphere circulates, I wouldn't be surprised if that did lead to higher-than-expected concentrations at the pole.

Posted by: Jamais Cascio on 21 Sep 05

Wow, the north pole is really ground zero for Global Warming. You have the highest concentration of CO2, and at least two powerful positive feedback loops. First, ice reflects most of the sunlight that hits it but after the ice melts, sea water absorbs most of the sunlight that hits it. Second, when the permafrost melts a massive amount of methane is released from the decaying organic matter in the permafrost.


And if i remember correctly CO2 concentration has its annual peak in the winter, which should moderate the winter temperatures leading to less ice formation and a "warmer" permafrost.

Double UGGG!!

Posted by: jim moore on 21 Sep 05



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